As you know from the absence of a news column in the last issue of S.B., Classis West met on September 9 in our Hull, Iowa Church. On the day prior to classis, an officebearers’ conference was held—as has been the practice of late—on the subject of the ruling elder. Papers were presented by John Kalsbeek, Jr., of Redlands, California and M. Straayer of Edmonton, Alberta. 

From a trio of Reverends Houck, Kamps, and Van Overloop, Rev. Van Overloop of our Birmingham mission field has been extended the call from Redlands, Calif. 

Our “retired” ministers are still very much in demand. First Church of Grand Rapids has arranged to send Rev. Schipper to labor for a couple of months in Bradenton, Florida when Rev. Harbach returns, and Rev. Heys is now preaching in Redlands. 

Due to the fact that there are no pulpit vacancies in Classis East, our Seminary has requested of our Grand Rapids area churches occasional “Seminary Sundays.” A “Seminary Sunday” is defined as a Sunday in which professors and seminarians are given an opportunity to preach and give a word of edification. From the looks of the bulletins I have received, the churches are complying with this request.

The Canons of Dordt is the subject of discussion for two new study classes being held in the Grand Rapids area this fall. Our Hudsonville and Southeast consistories are sponsoring the classes which meet in the Byron Center Library, and the Calvin College Fine Arts Center on alternate Wednesdays. Prof. H. C. Hoeksema, author of a recently published commentary on the Canons, Voice of Our Fathers, is teaching the classes. 

The Federation Board of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies sponsored a weekend fall retreat at YMCA Camp Douglas, Muskegon, MI on September 11 and 12. Activities of the retreat included a speech, panel discussion, singing, and discussion groups as well as swimming, canoeing, volleyball, and football. 

Pastor Bekkering of our Trinity Protestant Reformed Church of Houston, Texas made special mention on their August 9 bulletin that they were “19 souls richer than a month ago.” It appears Rev. Bekkering was on vacation at the time, and the elder that was conducting the worship service was so overwhelmed that he was left “speechless for a few moments.” Pastor Bekkering further reports that upon his return home from vacation he too was “overwhelmed.” Then in a footnote Rev. Bekkering gives his definition of overwhelmed: “Overwhelmed means that after attempting to speak the invocation he had to return to the consistory room to compose himself. The congregation sang Psalter #l0 as they waited. Elder Sugg had failed to warn him what the effect of that sea of faces might be. It turns out that the stolid Michigan Hollander is as helpless before the mercies of God as the Anglo-Celtic Texan.” 

The following worthwhile “thoughts on improving congregational singing” were printed in an August, Hudsonville, Michigan bulletin:

Volume: Ever notice how afraid we often are lest others hear us singing too lustily? Most sing at less than half capacity—and some appear to sing not at all. If each, for most songs, doubles the volume—what a joyous sound indeed would arise before God’s throne. 

Punctuation: Ever notice how we inevitably stop singing at the end of a phrase—even when there are no commas or periods? Singing, while observing punctuation, makes most songs more meaningful. (Necessary breaths can be taken in the middle of phrases—rather than at the end of an unpunctuated phrase.)

Reverence: Ever notice how we quickly put away our books and even begin to sit down—before the song is ended? Perhaps the songs are so familiar we can do without books. But would it not be more respectful and less distracting if all books were placed back in their racks after the song is finished?

We close this column with some subscription news from our business manager, Mr. VanderWal, that has what he called “international flavor.” As I understand it a subscriber from Singapore gave a gift subscription of S.B. to a sister who resides in Scotland. That means we now have our first, but hopefully not last, subscriber in Scotland.